Wednesday, 30 March 2016

BAIL303: Project 1 - Commercial: Thirsty for Design Application: Water Bottle Illustration: Design Process.

Initial Thoughts

I'm looking at producing some illustrations to be applied to a child's water bottle.

Kicking off the thematic research I produced a mind-map of some contextual associations, with the key points of focus summarised below;

Where are water bottles often used?
School - Lunch times. Sports- cycling, running, swimming,

Could they include an element of education/positive message? 
Healthy lifestyle, being active. 

What illustrations would be attractive?
Characters - Children or anthropomorphic animals. Colours - bright, bold.


As noted in a discussion with Phil, children invest in characters/brands and take pride in having icons they enjoy on their possessions. 

Characters from popular films like Frozen span a mass variety of merchandise. 

Similarly characters from popular fiction appear.

Novelty bottles which expand from illustration into product design are interesting and would be an awesome application of illustration, but stretch beyond the realities of what I can achieve for this project. 

I'm thinking of producing an unlicensed illustration, like the above images. Which feature single illustrations of animals which could appeal to a child audience and are unified by a theme.

Initial Designs

I have decided to run with a 'healthy living / being active' theme and have selected one sport to draw up some concept images for. Choosing swimming and considering a variety of marine based animals - I drew up some images of Otters and Sharks. 
I played with the idea of the characters being realistic representations of the animals or as anthropomorphic animal-children.

I then rendered some digital images in Photoshop, using the digital collage technique that I have adopted this year. 

The process begins with using the lasso tool to create blocks of colour, layered on top of each other as if they were pieces of paper in a collage.

I then apply a drop shadow of 5px to the layers, with a light source usually set to 120 degrees, to separate the layers and imitate the layers of paper being caught by the scanner.  

A painted texture is then applied to each individual layer using a clipping mask. The textures are de-saturated so that any colour can be applied on top using a variety of layer blending options. 

The colour is then applied in another layer, usually a duplicate of the original block shape, or a block of colour that utilises a clipping mask. 

Critique with Caroline 

I produced both an anthropomorphic and more realistic image for both the shark and otter and discussed them within a group crit with Caroline. 

Despite my initial intentions to run with the anthropomorphic characters; so that there were similarities between the characters and the children that would own the bottles, making them more relatable; I was leaning towards the more realistic rendition as I felt the more organic shapes were more satisfying. Caroline then mentioned that the anthropomorphic characters felt like they belonged to a narrative, rather than a single image.

With this is mind I progressed to produce a third image of a turtle. 

Draft Outcomes

I then decided that there was an opportunity to introduce some text alongside the characters and elected to go along with some puns that champion the activity of swimming. Leaving me with the draft outcomes below.


For my first 'soft' deadline I looked at having the designs printed through a print-on-demand website - The above images are taken from their preview software. 

I also created a digital mock-up on photoshop, before printing the designs on to some bottles I nabbed from a pound shop. 

These were photographed for use in my portfolio consultation with Fig Taylor. I think they look fine with the yellow tops for now, perhaps I could prime and then spray them their respective colours at a later date.

I definitely need to look at getting them printed through a printer other than the college copiers though, as the colours are very dark in the print, as you can see by the mismatch between the grey of the bottle and the grey of the label. (not quite so evident in the photograph, but apparent in-hand.)

Depending on how the designs print on my home printer or through somewhere like the art side, I may need to adjust the colours of the tortoise in particular, as it's shell is very dark in the print.   

Exploring Further Context

Initially I had intended for these designs to be created through the context of being hired by popular stationary supplier Paperchase. However through research into the nature of their commissioning process I learned that they have an in-house design team that produces a majority of their work, only outsourcing to design studios or agencies that they already have a relationship with and decided to pursue the theme without an employer in mind.

In a discussion with Phil, we spoke about contextualising the brief further. Although the bottles work fine as they are as examples of how I might apply my illustrations to products, Phil suggested I could expand the project slightly to find a suitable potential client for the bottles - as this is a key element to the commercial project. As I have tried to communicate a message of enjoying physical activity, I thought I might try to find some charities or organisations involved with children participating in swimming. 

ASA/Association of Amateur Swimmers (
The section of the British Swimming governing body that is responsible for England having existed since 1869. They're all about getting people to swim for health and fun at their local facilities and making sure those facilities are up to scratch. They run the ASA Learn to Swim Pathway, a certificate and badge progression system that takes kids from their first dip of the toe to competent swimming capabilities.

Swimming Teacher's Association (
Founded in 1932 the STA have an academic focus, both teaching how to teach swimming, teaching swimming, lifesaving and first aid. STA is an independent organisation with several goals in common with the ASA, but they have eggs in the international basket, as well as at home. They also have their own awards based swimming lesson scheme. 

Swimathon /Sports Relief (
A swimming marathon event which sees people team-up or swim solo for 1.5, 2.5 or 5km. A charity fundraising event, they are partnered with British Swimming and Sports Relief. It encourages competitive and friendly participation in the sport and raises money for charity.

Presumably all of these organisations have branded products aimed at swimmers of all ages, I quite like the idea of possibly matching up the water bottle designs to the various stages of learning to swim (tad pole and bullfrog in my day) or having them used on a product that is being sold for a good cause. 


I wanted to apply some labels that were a better match to the on-screen colours of the design than those that I printed in college for the initial mock-ups. 

The results from my home printer were a bit dissapointing, the colours were initially quite far off and somewhat dark. A second print matched the colours slightly better, but black ink ran across the artwork.

The print from the artside was a really nice quality, much lighter than the other prints and relatively close to the screen colours. Interestingly the grey printed quite a lot lighter than expected, which works to the artworks advantage I feel. Bearing in mind how different prints can be from one another, I think I might look at purchasing a sample from a print-on-demand website if I were to consider trying to sell my artwork through it, just to see if it requires and editing for that purpose.  

Monday, 14 March 2016

BAIL303: Project 3 - Progressive: Illustrating the Point: Editorial 1: Anorak Magazine: Research - Saltram.

I went for a walk along the Plym River, starting at Laira and walking towards the Saltram grounds.

I wanted to get some visual references to inspire my composition for the woodland, particularly a colour palette for the bark and to get an idea as to how the trees might overlap each other.

I don't think I'll be directly taking elements out of these photos, but they are a good visual starting point for me to work from.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

BAIL302: Creative and Professional Development: Lectures: Guest Illustrators: Lize Meddings

Lize and Laura of the Sad Ghost Club visit us in our studio.


The Sad Ghost Club started life as a comic book by Lize Meddings and has now developed into a brand. The team produce art prints, apparel designs, bags, patches, pins, stickers, pocket mirrors, notebooks and, most importantly, zines. 

The SGC's popularity developed around the zine community and it's networking and exposure opportunities. Their success also comes from their understanding of their audience and their attempts to build relationships with them. 

They provided an insight into several different aspects involved with their success:

Talking illustration 


There is no set expectation of what a zine ought to contain - they aren't restricted to being indie comic book stories. although personal/emotive themes are often popular. 

Easiest form of publishing that can act as a pathway into other publishing opportunities.

Active community/network who are passionate about zine swapping or buying zines for the sake of it.  

Art Fairs

Provide good networking opportunities, but if travel/over night stays are involved they aren't usually cost-effective if you are intending to sell. 

Exposure opportunity through selling work. Thought Bubble, Leeds is a big one in the UK.

Attending events provides a deadline to work towards, which can help you to be proactive. Also provides a reason to experiment with a make-to-sell application of your work. 

Organising your own art fair means you have to network with local establishments, but also provides networking opportunities with local artists and companies that could be potential clients.

Social Enterprise

Success with social media

  • Identify specific goals and objectives.
  • Identify your customers.
  • Be aware of your competitors.
  • When using hashtags etc. make them memorable.
  • Get ideas from your customers as to what they want to see/buy.
  • Consider crowd sourcing. - Indiegogo, Kickstarter etc. Plan and research ahead of time as sourcing/producing large quantities of items can take around a year. 
  • Slowly expand what you do, branching into different customer bases to stay interesting. e.g from Etsy > Big Cartel >Shopperfy. Prints/Zines > Stickers/Postcards/ > Apparel. Products > Workshops.
  • Get pre-orders for products that will vary in size or be produced in large print runs - t-shirts, jumpers, etc. So you have an idea of how much to order. 
  • Test the sales of products before making loads of them. 

Knowing your audience

  • Create a 'persona' for your audience - a generalisation that represents them. 
  • Understand their needs - Choose the right platform
  • Speak their language
  • Build a relationship - answer questions and comment on the work of others.
  • Figure out an optimal posting time and schedule your posts - when are your audience active online? 
  • Provide a consistent message.
  • Measure, evaluate and adjust what you do and how they respond.

 I really enjoyed this visit - zine culture and art fairs are both areas which I haven't really researched before and it was great to get some sound ideas of how to be proactive and aware of how to use social media. 

In terms of relevance to my own practice, I'm not sure how proactive I will be in running my business through my social media - I recognise it's potential significance, but I think it would be naive of me to assume I can do it as successfully as the SGC, seeing as Laura handles the social media end and Lize sticks to creating the artwork and I would be doing both! However, when it comes to independently publishing items of work for sale post-graduation, some of this information is going to be really beneficial and perhaps a collaborative effort would be an interesting avenue.